When you see a tree — part 2

At this point I wasn’t sure exactly what to do next. I finally decided that wanted to go ahead and layer the quilt and do some of the tree branch quilting. Since I couldn’t decide what to do about borders I decided to leave lots of room on the outer edges so that I can”flip and sew” the borders later.

I like to use a fusible batting and was surprised to find out that the stabilizer that I had ironed to back of the sky fabric wouldn’t adhere to the batting so I had to revert to safety pins.

The next step was to add some larger leaves, all completely attached to the top.   Then, continuing the layering effect, I added the tree branches over the top…..

I did have to switch to a close toed darning foot to attach the felted branches so that the foot wouldn’t get caught in the looser fibers from the needle felting.

Now it was time to insert the bird nest. I picked some light browns that might work for the nest and added Wonder Under to the back. As an aside, if you ever have trouble getting the paper off of the Wonder Under, you can pop it into your freezer for about 10 seconds and the paper will peel right off. Don’t know why….guess it is magic!!!

I sliced a bunch of tiny “twigs”

….and now it is time to play!!

I debated about using needle felting to make the nest but thought that it needed something that is a different texture from the tree bark.

The nest needed to be fairly small and I was afraid that I would make it too big, so I put a transparent pressing cloth over the quilt so that I could hopefully get it into perspective. I started with a few bare bones…..

….and kept adding “twigs” until it was the shape that I wanted…..

The next step was to add some color to the “inside” twigs to give it some depth.

I felt that the entire tree needed a bit more depth so added some more leaves, this time only sewing down the middle and leaving the edges free. They left wonderful shadows across the surface……

I had recently purchased a new “quilting”tool….a Carpenter’s Laser Square and I enjoyed using it to ensure that the borders formed a 90 degree angle. You can see the laser beam following along both sides of the corner……

I also used it to square up the outside edges of the quilt.

Finally, I tried something new when sewing on the facing. Previously, I had just sewn it on with measuring and then whacked it off at the end but this time I meticulously measured the strips agains the middle of the quilt and applied it as I would a border….pinning at each corner, in the middle, and several places inbetween. I believe that it helped to keep the quilt edges square!!

I was super happy with the finished product…..

….especially the new techniques that I had used, including stamping and needle felting. I also felt good about the finishing techniques that I had employed and felt that I had made a piece that was technically better than any I had before.

Having said that, I was completely blown away by the other entries in this challenge…..

I am DEFINITELY going to have to “up”my game further to compete with these talented ladies…..but a little “ootz” from the competition is never a bad thing!!!

Feeling “Snowed Under”

Back in January our Guild was presented with a challenge that was due at the June meeting.   It was billed as the “Idiom” challenge and the rules said to make a 24×36 inch quilt that represented an idiom.  The quilt could not have borders and must have a recognizable amount of black and white fabric.

My initial thought was that I didn’t want to do the challenge because I could only think of “cutesy” ideas and didn’t want to make that big of a quilt that would never hang on my walls.  So, I pretty much forgot about it!!

Then, back in February I was having lunch with my “Creative Group” and we were talking about how bad the winter weather had been.  One of the members showed a photo that her son had taken to prove just how much snow had fallen at his house.   When I saw the photo, I saw a single tree trunk in the middle of a snow drift with a horizon line and a forest of trees in the background.   When I asked the woman to share the photo, this is what I received……IMG_2203

…..a yardstick stuck into the snow on a table and something in the background….probably the back of a deck chair.    Yikes, is this really the photo that inspired me!!!

That evening, as I was playing around with the photo and thinking about the size of the quilt, I realized that it could EASILY be turned into a 24×36 inch quilt which would fit the challenge rules.    But, I still needed an idiom…. so I hopped on the internet and Googled “idioms and snow” and up popped “SNOWED UNDER”….the PERFECT name for this planned quilt!!!

I started on the quilt top by marking a 24 x 36 inch onto my design wall and laying out the possible fabrics…..IMG_5045

The next task was to “free-piece” the snow background.  This particular section started out by piecing a nine patch…..


….and continuing to add pieced segments until I got it to the size that I wanted……IMG_5299

…..and then added it to the other sections already on the wall……IMG_5300

After I had the snow bank pieced, and as I was trying to decide what to do with the background trees, I looked thru some photos that I had saved as inspirations and decided that, like this photo, there needed to be some tree shadows….. il_340x270.528691447_kn46

I briefly thought about painting the shadows but then remembered a banner that I had photographed in Scotland where netting was used to provide shadows on buildings…..

P5010860I grabbed the only netting that I had in the house (purple) and placed a temporary shadowIMG_5310I immediately liked how it looked!!

Now it was time to start quilting, so I did some sample quilting (with a pen) to see which I liked best…..IMG_5318

I picked the middle one and drew one blue line to use as a guide for the echo quilting, and off I went!!

While outlining the tree, I accidently hopped off the white and onto the tree trunk, leaving a VERY noticeable line.  Now I could have taken the stitching out but instead decided to cover the white line with a dab of from a brown Fabrico Marker. 

Unfortunately the next thing that I did was to pull out my spray bottle and liberally spray the blue line to remove the mark, AND, you guessed it…..the brown marker hadn’t dried yet and it bled onto the white fabric…..IMG_5322

It wasn’t much but was enough to ruin the piece and I was horrified!!   As I finished quilting the trees, I tried to think of ways to fix the bleed mark and had basically decided that I would need to take out some of the quilting and applique another piece of white fabric over it….SIGH….so much work!!!

But then I had the wonderful thought…..I wonder if I could paint over it?????

So a dab of paint on a dry brush…..

IMG_5325…. and the crisis was averted!!!!

I am extremely happy with the quilt and had a marvelous time working on it…..IMG_5449

…..definitely a win-win!!!

The Ombre Challenge

Ok….let me start this post by saying that, until a few months ago, I had no recollection of ever hearing the word “Ombre”, as opposed to “Hombre” which , as a Texan, I had heard all of my life.   It is a word that seems to be all the rage right now so I wasn’t surprised when it showed up in our guild challenge. 

Here were the rules for this fun challenge…..

Ombré (pronounced omb-ray) is a French word meaning “shaded”. It means having tones of color that blend into each other, graduating from light to dark. Think of the color gradations on paint chips, for instance. Ombré is a trendy and popular design element in everything from clothing to nail polish to hair color, and of course, quilts.

The first part of your challenge is to play with color values and create a quilt with ombré design elements. It could be monochromatic, showing shades of a single color. It could be a two tone quilt with one color blending into another or a rainbow quilt involving a whole spectrum of colors- we just want to see gradations in color, no matter how you choose to do it.

The second part of the challenge is to dive into your scrap basket and include them in this quilt. Your challenge quilt should have at least 50% fabric scraps, defined as smaller pieces of fabric left over from other projects. We are working on the honor system here. Feel free to swap fabric scraps with your friends! 

As usual, we had 6 months to make this quilt and also as usual, I didn’t start on it until the week before!!!   I had continued to try to come up with ideas but couldn’t find anything that really caught my imagination.  Then, as I was looking on Amazon for books that I could put on my Christmas Wish List, I came across a super simple block and decided  that I wanted to use it as the basis for my quilt.

To keep with the mandate of using at least 50% scraps, I opened my bin of 1.5 inch strips…..IMG_4670

….and started pulling any dark blue fabrics that had at least 10 inches in length.   Then I started pulling various other colors…blues, purples, pinks, peach’s and greens.   Once everything had been pulled and sorted a bit, it looked like this…..


I then took the darkest blue fabric from the top  left column and added it to the lightest purple on the bottom right column and started making random blocks, continuing to match up the left column fabrics with the right and center columns.

When I first laid them out, I was pleased with the results…..IMG_4687

In the end I decided that I really didn’t want the green blocks….except for one at the very bottom and this ended up as my final layout…..


In this photo I was also auditioning various fabrics for a border around the medallion.

In the end, I decided to use a mottled white fabric for the four corners and to move the border out away from the medallion.IMG_4699

By the way, I did NOT do a good job of cutting the four setting triangles and ended up cutting SQUARES rather than triangles!!  Fortunately, there was enough fabric for me to try again but I really need to think thru the math to do this properly next time.

Now it was time to do the quilting and my thought was to do a lot of circles on the medallion and straight lines in the background.    The circles went great and as I quilted them I kept seeing the dark blue 1 inch lines that dominated the block piecing.    I finally decided to extend these lines into the border and do some filler quilting inside them.   While trying to think of filler ideas I ended up looking at my IQA quilt show photos, noting down the ideas as I saw them…..IMG_4728

Then it was upstairs to try a few of them on fabric……


And the winner was this super easy squiggle on the left.…..


I loved doing this simple quilting and even took the time to bury all of my threads as I went  (another of my “do it the right way first” resolutions that I made after the quilt show)…..IMG_4729

My original idea had been to quilt something else in the other channels which were 1.25 inches wide, but I was so pleased with the texture that showed, I decided to leave it the way it was.


Here is the finished product……


…and I am super happy with how it turned out. 

And for those of you who ask, no I didn’t see the dark heart in the center of the top until AFTER it was completely pieced together!

Once again, a challenge led me to make a quilt that I am proud of and helped me to stretch myself to try some new things!!!

Let’s play Catch-up .…


Once again, I have not found time for blogging over the last two months, but have actualy had a bit of time in my studio.  SO….let’s catch up…..

First of all, the last post was about a quilt for a special baby and the other day I saw a photo of him sleeping on my quilt……


It makes my heart warm to see this!!!!

I also have a wonderful friend (Phyllis) who collects selvidge edges of fabrics and makes mug rugs from them.   Several years ago she gave me one as a thank you for serving on a guild committee……photo 31

I was talking to her back in January and told her that I had a great time using  it.  She smiled and told me that she makes  a new mug rug each month for her sister and that she would add me to the “Mug Rug of the Month” club!!!  How exciting!!!! 

Here is the first one that I received for March……

photo 1 (2)

It fits perfectly on my desk and was such fun to use.   She has since given me the ones for April, May and June…..

photo 32

I love coming to the first of a month and getting to pull out a new one.   This is such a thoughtful and special gift!!!


Moving on…… When my Cre-8-tive group met back in November, we discussed the fact that we always make our challenges using our “go-to” technique.   For me, it normally has something to do with Machine Quilting!!  So, we decided that our next challenge project was for each of us to move out of our comfort zone.  We met back in February where we each presented our idea for a new project and the idea had to be approved by the rest of the group.   The ideas ranged widely but we all seem excited to be truly challenged!!

My idea is to do something by hand rather than using my machine.  To that end, I started looking a recent purchase…..


…..and playing with paper piecing using a pentagon shape as a starting place.   And, since I love Sunflowers, I pulled out some fabric and started playing with the shapes.    Here is where I am at the moment…..

photo 1

I love the fact that the center sunflower is actually made up of five different pieces!!!  I will post more information about this piece later.

There is another challenge in progress from my quilt guild.  This one is entitled “It’s a Southern Thing” and the size is only 12 inches square.   I have had a wonderful time with this, playing with wool roving and hand embroidery stitching.   I have loved working in the small format because, if I didn’t like what I had done, it wasn’t that big of a deal to re-do it.   

Here is a sneak preview……11


I will post more after the reveal meeting in June.


Finally, this time last year I found a beautiful needlepoint project from Kaffe Fasset and was given it as part of my birthday present.  I am very slowly working on it but really enjoy the colors and designs…..

photo 2

Speaking of birthdays….although mine is still 6 weeks away, Michael bought an oil painting that I found and liked…..


It is wonderful to see it as I walk thru our Den!


OK….that’s all for now.    There is more coming in the next day or so and then on Saturday we are off for 5 weeks in Portugal and Austrai….lots of blogging to come then!!!

Portrait Challenge


Back in July, we were presented with a challenge in our guild…..make a portrait of yourself with the overall dimensions to be 80 inches.  Oh, and it had to have a discernable patch of red in it.

Once again I started out with tons of ideas…..

  –  since this would be after our Himalaya trek, I envisioned using a picture of the mountains with a silhouette of myself in backpack and hiking gear.   Unfortunately I never got a good picture of myself to use so I started thinking again.

  –  I was pretty sure that I wanted to do something about travel, probably using this photo of Michael and myself, taken in Gaeta, Italy……


……so my next thought was to pick out favorite travel photos and do a banner that was 10 inches wide and 30 inches long.   But, when I started looking for photos, I couldn’t find any that I felt would make a good composition.

Back to thinking…..   For some reason the “Trip Around the World” block caught in my mind so I started playing with how I could turn it into a quilt.

Then came the idea of turning the above photo into a black and white photo, but leave my red shirt and use that for the color basis of the quilt.

I started off by making a strip set of the fabrics that I wanted to use…..


I then cut each set down into 2-1/2 inch strips…..DSC06848

…..and sewed the sets together to form rings of fabric…..


I then un-picked one of the seams in each set so that it would fit in with the pattern…..


As I laid the quilt out, I spent a great deal of time re-pressing the strips so that the seam allowances would nest properly. 

I had left room in my design for a decent sized border and thought about adding a saying of some sort to finish out the idea.    I spent a long time looking online for quotes about travel and found some wonderful ones but my favorite was by Charles Schultz….”In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with”.

So, with that in mind, I played with my computer fonts until I found one that would be easy to applique and would fit in the design.

I kept the quilting simple with just straight lines and then did a double quilt around each of the letters.

I was VERY happy with the result…….



Of course, mine was just one of the amazing quilts that were shown that night.   Here are the others…..



The best part of the challenge was listening to the reasons that we made our quilts.   One woman made hers to remember her time serving in Viet Nam while another showed her tennis shoes to commemorate a new active lifestyle.  And, of course, several noted our mutual love of fabric and sewing!!

As usual, the challenge was a great jumping off point for making a fun and thoughtful quilt!!!